Tuesday 03 April 2018

Bible Book:

“But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (v. 11)

Luke 24:1-12 Tuesday 3 April 2018

Psalm: Psalm 136


Luke’s Gospel ended the story of the Crucifixion by focusing on women – the women from Galilee who had accompanied Jesus (Luke 23:55). They were continuing to support him in death as they had done in life, providing the spices and ointment needed to care for his body. After the chaos and tragedy of the Cross, they were doing their best to restore order and ensure everything was done properly.

But with the new day came a wholly new way of being. The stone was rolled away and the body gone, and in the tomb two men in dazzling clothes – Luke’s word suggests they were as bright as lightning (see also Luke 9:29). And this became a moment of enlightenment for the women. The angels’ words helped them make sense of their memories of what Jesus had told them (see Luke 13:33), and suddenly it all fitted together. In contrast to the puzzling ending to Mark’s Gospel (see Sunday’s notes), here the women got it – the light flicked on in their head, and they understood.

But nobody else did. In a patriarchal society, women’s word didn’t count for very much. Their evidence wasn’t normally acceptable in court, and their story here was dismissed as frivolous nonsense – it’s easy to imagine how the conversation might have gone. Only Peter took them seriously enough to go and check. Was he the most unsettled of all, following his denial (Luke 22:54-62)? But there were no angels to speak to him.

The Gospel continues the story by describing two appearances of the Lord himself, on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-35) and back in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43). In both accounts, the Lord rebuked those who have heard the story but not believed it – ‘how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe!’ (Luke 24:25, 38). Women played an important part throughout Luke’s Gospel, and this didn’t change with Jesus’ death (Luke 23:49) and his resurrection. The other disciples should have taken the women’s testimony seriously.

The story was shared with the apostles and “all the rest” (v. 9); this story which fits together all the pieces of the puzzle and makes sense of it all. Who is included in that phrase “all the rest”? Does Luke gaze more widely, at the growing Christian community described in Acts, and on down the generations? Are we, Christians in 2018, included here? We are also invited to listen to the women’s words, and to find ways to make sense of it all – and not to dismiss their story as “an idle tale”.

To Ponder

  • In what ways does our society take the story of the Resurrection seriously? And in what ways is it dismissed as “an idle tale”?
  • How good is your church at listening to the voices of those who are pushed to the edges of society?
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